GlaxoSmithKline and Human Genome Sciences have been boosted by another approval for their lupus drug Benlysta, this time in Canada.

Health Canada has given the green light to Benlysta (belimumab) for use in addition to standard therapy for reducing disease activity in adults with active, autoantibody-positive systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). GSK will sell the drug in Canada and it is expected to be available in September.

It is the first time in almost 50 years that Canadians living with lupus will have a new treatment option, GSK noted. One in 1,000 people in the country suffer from the disorder where the body's immune system creates autoantibodies that attack normal healthy tissue, leading to inflammation in many parts of the body.

Murray Urowitz, a lupus expert in Toronto was quoted as saying that the drugs currently used were not originally developed for the intent of treating lupus, so Benlysta "is a much-needed addition to the treatment paradigm." The drug got the green light in the USA in March, while in May, the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval.